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Sean Arnold, director of maintenance with Hernando County School District in Brooksville, Fla., outlines his district's energy-conservation program, which includes cool roofs and lighting and HVAC retrofits
Director of Maintenance
Hernando County School District
Can you talk about the "Spot the Watt" program in your district?
"Spot the Watt" is an energy-conservation program for all of our 22 schools, as well as support centers. The program is a conservation program with incentives. The more the school saves on energy, the more the school can earn in the form of a rebate from the district. The program is still relatively new, and we are making modifications along the way as we learn more about the capabilities at the school level.
The program involves all students and staff to be aware of areas in which energy savings can occur. We are looking for participation from all levels and areas so the district can see a significant savings in utility costs. It is a win-win for everyone. We feel that the savings will add up annually.
Each month, data for energy consumption at each of the schools is collected and entered into a database. The maintenance department monitors energy use and summarizes the data each quarter. Schools that have lowered their consumption are rewarded with a rebate based on $.01 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) saved.
What types of HVAC energy-saving strategies have you implemented?
Many different energy-saving strategies have been implemented related to HVAC systems. Savings can be contributed to upgrades such as a direct-expansion cooling system retrofitted to a much more efficient chilled-water system.
One specific example is in one of our elementary schools, where in 1997 the baseline data for January shows 220,463 kWh. The January 2009 actual usage was 67,200 kWh. That is a savings of 153,263 kWh and a savings of more than $6,500 for January 2009 compared to January 1997. Upgrading chillers from reciprocation compressors to screw-type compressors has saved a great deal of money over the years.
We have also partnered with a manufacturer in a 20-year performance contract for many of our schools. The program pays for itself with the yearly savings. We continue to make improvements and implementations with these sustainable savings.
What role does your energy-management system play in reducing energy use and costs?
Our energy-management system for HVAC and lighting controls have drastically reduced our energy consumption. We have had a system in place of varying capacity for over 10 years. The energy-management systems are capable of monitoring humidity, temperature, and set points. Lighting is controlled on strict time schedules for on/off settings for normal school days, as well as weekends. We also have vacation or holiday modes where lighting is reduced to save energy when areas are not going to be occupied.
The management system can track usage in areas to help determine if other measures are needed for further reduction in energy consumption related to HVAC systems. The system is closely monitored by one of our technicians for optimum performance.
What impact have lighting initiatives had on lowering energy use?
Upgrading lighting has had a tremendous impact. Occupancy sensors have been installed in all classrooms and 95 percent of offices. They help reduce wasted energy by shutting off the lights when the room is not occupied. We are seeing an average savings of 40 percent in lighting energy used, and this translates into an electricity cost savings.
We have upgraded all T12 lamps to T8 lamps in all of the schools. Our newer schools bring in more natural light to help improve the indoor environment. The best step we have taken with lighting and lowering energy has been the â€œSpot the Wattâ€ program. The educational aspect of the program has lowered energy use and costs by raising the awareness of building occupants. Now, the occupants are turning off unnecessary lights, and the students police areas for unnecessary energy consumption.
Can you talk about the cool roofs in your district?
Cool roofs are an essential part of any new construction project, as well as any re-roofing we are doing. They fit well into our sustainability program because the roof positively affects other aspects of facility operations, such as building cooling.
The cool roof has a high solar reflectance, which saves us money inside the building due to reduced air-conditioning costs. Installation of the roofs also has allowed us to earn a utility rebate for each roof. So it was a double bonus for us to install this type of roof. The Energy Star cool roof is an easy way to save money and energy for years to come.
The upkeep of the cool roof is essential. We conduct yearly roofing audits to make sure our roofs are in good shape. Any problems we find during these inspections are addressed, and we compose a timeline for re-roofing all buildings.